XIRKL

By: Anneke DiPietro

Violence , Techie

Here in the United States, fully 95% of ALL teens between the ages of 12-and-17 are online, with 80% using social networking sites. As teens navigate these open communication channels, parents rightfully worry about the growing epidemic of cyber-bullying. According to a recent PEW Internet study, 88% of social-media using teens have witnessed other people being mean or cruel to someone online and 1-in-5 will be victimized.

As if that's not bad enough, in the journal of JAMA Pediatrics, ten separate studies examined the link between social media victimization (cyberbullying) and depression and ALL found a connection!  In fact, abuse 'doubles the risk' of depression and may cause a third of mental health cases in young people.

Since most of us view social media as a “real-time score board” for a 24/7 popularity contest, there is a lopsided connection between the “selfie-generation” and self-esteem, according to a 2-year study funded by CNN.  The challenge for our society is: how we can both protect a young person from being bullied online, while at the same time helping them value the connections they are making in the real world?

Online bullying is widespread because any stupid, angry person can reach thousands of people with very little effort. That's why I designed XIRKL (pronounced "circle") as a social network that lets users personalize their experience so that a user wil only see messages and posts from people they know and trust. I believe EVERYONE deserves to have a personal, uncluttered social media experice.  With XIRKL, users can only follow 21 people. Like Twitter’s 140 characters or Vine’s six seconds, this limit allows for a unique and fun experience. XIRKL will be useful to anyone who is tired of all the noise and garbage cluttering up their feeds. What makes XIRKL even more unique is that its users control the experience, not advertisers. This brings an extraordinary level of safety and personal security, since nobody can reach you if you don’t invite them in.

Never again do teens have to see the slimy garbage posted by strangers – or even by people they know but doesn’t especially like. If a person behaves badly, you simply eject him or her from your XIRKL and hope that other XIRKL members will do the same. As in real life, the effect of a bully is limited only to those people who tolerate his nonsense. You can’t prevent a jerk from trying to spread rumors and garbage but if there’s nobody left to hear it, it will just evaporate. 

Users can post anything they want: text posts, links, sound files, images or video. Each user can have an infinite number of people following them but they can only follow 21 people. This eliminates the unwanted messages and annoying advertisements that make using most social networks a pain. XIRKL is especially useful for younger users, people who are worried about bullies or people who hate having to scroll through tons of junk to get to what’s important because XIRKLers only see messages from people they’ve invited into their timeline. If you don’t specifically invite someone in, they don’t get in. It’s that simple. 

Team Members

  • Anneke DiPietro

    co-founder

    My name is Anneke DiPietro. I’m 15 years old, and a junior at Stanford Online High School. Almost a year ago, I came up with the idea for a private, safe social network. XIRKL (pronounced “circle”) is based on the simple idea that users deserve a personal, uncluttered social media experience. A XIRKL user can only follow 21 people. Like Twitter’s 140 characters or Vine’s six seconds, this limit allows for a unique and fun experience. XIRKL will be useful to anyone who is tired of all the noise and garbage cluttering up their feeds. What makes XIRKL even more unique is that its users control the experience, not advertisers.

Impact

Why XIRKL?

This is the video I used to raise $21,560 in 21 days!  My dad said that if I was able to reach my crowdfunding goal -- which I did -- he would raise the rest of the money we needed to build the product!


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